Fast-track passport application service crashes as desperate holidaymakers rush to renew travel documents

The UK’s fast-track passport software service has crashed, as anxious holidaymakers try to renew their journey paperwork forward of journeys overseas.

Stories recommend that the website has been down since yesterday night; it was nonetheless displaying a “busy” message as of 10.25am this morning.

When travellers click on to e book a fast-track appointment, the next seems: “System busy.

“Sorry, we’re experiencing excessive demand for this service for the time being and the system is busy. Please strive once more later.”

The error message on the fast-track software web page


It follows the federal government warning travellers to use for brand new passports “as quickly as doable” in the event that they wish to obtain them in time for the summer season holidays, after a backlog of purposes precipitated common wait instances to climb to 10 weeks.

Earlier this week, Dwelling Workplace minister Kevin Foster inspired Brits to get purposes in now, including that one million passport purposes had been acquired within the final month alone.

“To place that into context, we normally cope with seven million in a complete yr,” he informed MPs.

“We might advise folks it is a very, nearly unprecedented surge in demand, and if persons are planning to journey this summer season we’d advise them to get their software in as quickly as doable.”

Regardless of issuing this warning, the federal government doesn’t appear to have anticipated the following surge in Britons making an attempt to e book fast-track appointments.

“Given the federal government itself warned about large demand for passport renewals, a backlog brought on by the pandemic (but additionally adjustments in passport validity because of Brexit) it could possibly’t throw its palms up now and say this demand is surprising,” tweeted Which? Journey editor Rory Boland, after recognizing that the fast-track website had crashed on Wednesday night time.

A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Passport Workplace (HMPO) mentioned: “Given current curiosity in passports, we’re seeing an elevated variety of folks visiting our web site to view appointment availability for pressing providers. This has not affected folks submitting a passport software.

“We’ve elevated workers numbers by 500 since April 2021, which has helped us to deal with extra purposes than ever earlier than, with a couple of million passport purposes processed in March 2022.”

Many travellers are turning to fast-track appointments to make sure they obtain their new journey paperwork in time for long-awaited journeys.

It prices £142 for an grownup passport and £122 for a kid passport – in comparison with £75.50 and £49 respectively for the common service – for the assure that you simply’ll obtain paperwork inside every week.

Ben Bradshaw, a former Cupboard minister and member of the Transport Choose Committee, mentioned of the passport backlog earlier this week: “But once more, the Dwelling Workplace and Priti Patel have been asleep on the job.

“Anybody might have predicted that after two years of journey restrictions there can be large surge in passport renewals and purposes.

“But there appears to have been no planning for this, which means hundreds of households who’ve been wanting ahead to seeing family members once more or having a vacation are having these hopes dashed.”

The Labour MP for Barnsley East, Stephanie Peacock, described the case of a mom who submitted her daughter’s passport software in January – 5 months earlier than their vacation subsequent week – however has but to obtain one.

New passport validity guidelines after Brexit have compounded backlog points brought on by the pandemic.

Brits travelling to the EU should now guarantee their passports meet the next necessities to be legitimate:

  • On the day of arrival within the EU, was it issued lower than 10 years in the past?
  • On the meant day of departure from the EU, will it have at the very least three months remaining?

These two situations are unbiased of one another – so a British traveller to Europe with a passport issued on 2 Might 2012 that expires on 2 November 2022 can enter any time as much as 1 Might 2022.

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